Manchester

Cheshire businessman Arran Coghlan cleared in drugs case

Arran Coghlan
Image caption Mr Coghlan was released from HMP Manchester on Thursday night

A businessman cleared in three murder inquiries has been released from jail after the collapse of a multi-million pound drugs conspiracy case.

Arran Coghlan, 39, from Alderley Edge, Cheshire, was arrested by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) in September 2010.

He was accused of leading a cocaine-smuggling operation.

Mr Coghlan was formally cleared after prosecutors offered no evidence at Liverpool Crown Court.

Judge Mark Brown returned three not guilty verdicts on Thursday.

Mr Coghlan had been charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine and had spent nine months on remand at HMP Manchester, previously known as Strangeways.

A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "We can confirm we have offered no evidence in the case of Mr Coghlan."

Mr Coghlan, who has denied any links with criminality, was charged with the murder of his friend Stephen Akinyemi after a fight at his home in Alderley Edge in February 2010.

But prosecutors dropped that case because they could not prove he had not been acting in self-defence.

Mr Coghlan was injured in the fight but Mr Akinyemi - who was known to police - was shot in the head and stabbed to the upper body, despite wearing a stab vest.

The businessman was also cleared in 1996 of shooting Chris Little dead at the wheel of his Mercedes in Stockport.

In 2003, he stood trial for the murder of drug dealer David Barnshaw, who was kidnapped and forced to drink petrol before being burned alive in the back of a car in Stockport in 2001.

He was cleared after it transpired police failed to pass on important information about another possible suspect.

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